First and Last Classes


September 26, 2016 by Jean

I’m chagrined to realize that I’ve let two weeks slide by without posting here. It really is a busy season! Part of what has made September so busy is the overlap between the first classes of the year at the Senior College and the last classes for this year in my certificate program at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens.

My first Senior College class took place on Tuesday of last week. For eight consecutive Tuesdays, I am teaching a course on women’s activism in 19th century America, the same course I taught there last year. The class is limited to 20 and has 19 officially enrolled, but several people were absent the first week. The dozen who were present were a very lively and interesting group. Several are women who married and had children right after high school and then went back to school for college degrees later in life. Quite a few are retired teachers. One of the treats of having so many teachers in the class is that they know how to have a productive discussion. The students spoke directly to one another, rather than directing all their comments to me, and they referenced one another’s contributions (as in, “I think Betty made a really important point a few minutes ago”). I’m looking forward to a fun course! Just by coincidence of the calendar, our last class, which focuses on  the successful conclusion in the early 20th century of the fight for women’s voting rights, will be on election day, November 8! It should add some extra excitement to our last class.

I’m also looking forward to the last classes of the year for my Certificate in Native Plants and Ecological Horticulture. Later this week, I’ll travel out to the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens for a 2-day course on invasive plants, taught by a leading botanist from the New England Wild Flower Society. This is the class I’ve been most excited about taking. As I drive around Maine at this time of year, I am very aware of large tracts of Japanese knotweed in bloom. Their flowers are lovely and I can understand why nurseries sold them and people planted them in their gardens in earlier times, but they have now escaped from those gardens and form dense colonies where nothing else can grow. I am passionately interested in the problem of invasive plants and am looking forward to learning more about how to avoid adding potentially invasive plants to our gardens and how to combat the spread of those already here. In the future, I hope I can make a contribution as a Master Gardener Volunteer in educating the public about invasive plants or possibly organizing some local eradication efforts.

As September ends and various garden-related projects wind down, I’m looking forward to time for activities I’ve been neglecting – like blogging and that mountain of firewood still sitting in my driveway.

8 thoughts on “First and Last Classes

  1. Charlie Emmons says:

    As a college professor, I appreciate the “I think Betty made a really important point…”, compared to the current college norm of saying, “Going off of that….” when following up another student’s comment.

    • Jean says:

      Charlie, I, too, appreciate the complete sentences and general articulateness of an older generation — another one of the joys of teaching Senior College.

  2. Jean R. says:

    I knew from your last post it would be a while before we’d see you next blog. You are one busy woman.

    Where I live there is a place you can call and a group of volunteers will come out and pull up all your invasive plants. I wish wild geraniums was on their list. They have taken over my yard!

    • Jean says:

      Jean, Having volunteers to get the invasive plants out of people’s yards is a great way of preventing them from escaping into the wild. I just finished my invasive plants class, and we saw places where whole groups of trees in the wild were totally covered top to bottom with Oriental bittersweet.

  3. sfrussell49 says:

    I love reading about what you’re doing. You’ve been an inspiration to me since I first met you in Women’s Studies year ago. We miss you! I’m so glad you’re still teaching because you have so much to give. Blessings!

    • Jean says:

      Susan, It’s great to hear from you. I love teaching at the Senior College — all the fun parts of teaching with almost none of the hassles!

  4. Brenda says:

    Your course sounds wonderful. I wish I lived a little closer. Things haven’t slowed down much here either. But what a lovely fall we are having.

    • Jean says:

      Brenda, This is material I really enjoy teaching about. One woman who was in the class last year enjoyed it so much she has come back to repeat it. I told her that no matter how many times I do read and discuss this same material, I always learn something new with each iteration.

      The foliage has really started to turn here, and the color looks better than I would have anticipated given our continuing severe drought conditions.

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I am Jean Potuchek, a professional sociologist who has just stepped into the next phase of my life, retirement, after more than thirty years of college teaching. This blog is about my experience of that new phase of life.

Please join me as I step into my future.

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